Children as health advocates in families: assessing the consequences ARC DP16

Widespread public concern with obesity means children are seen as advocates for change in family health practices. This study Child health advocacy examines how health knowledge taken home by primary aged children impacts on children’s well-being, family food practices, and family relationships. It investigates the consequences for children and families, with particular attention to diverse family groups and unintended consequences that may arise. It uses a multi-method approach including video diaries, and interviews with children and parents within families. Results will inform health policy and school health practices, and provide resources for those working with families.

Key Research Goals

  1. To show how children experience the public health call to become advocates for healthy eating in their families.
  2. To explore family responses to obesity prevention education including physical education messages brought home by children from schools and how family relationships and interactions are impacted and changed.
  3. To make a major contribution to both critical scholarship on contemporary public health discourses and obesity-related public health policy and education, by building knowledge about how food consumption is occurring within family relationships and about how families can best be supported to achieve healthy living outcomes.

Project Team
Professor JaneMaree Maher (Monash University) Professor Jan Wright (University of Wollongong) Professor Jo Lindsay (Monash University) Dr Claire Tanner (University of Melbourne) Dr Deana Leahy (Monash University) Dr Sian Supski (Monash University) Project Research Fellow.

Project Updates

  1. We have completed our data collection with 50 Victorian families: we have child interviews, family interviews and visual data from each family. We are currently in the process of our analysis. Read our Child Health Advocacy - Research Report 1 - December 2017.
  2. In September 2018, we convened a Child Health Advocacy workshop at Monash Prato
    with international experts: Dr Rebecca O'Connell, Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education University College London and Professor Lisette Burrows, Health & Physical Education Pedagogy, University of Otago, who worked with us on the analysis and internationalisation of our data. We look forwards to further collaborations.

Professor Wendy Wills, Food and Public Health, Director, Centre for Research in Primary and Community Care (CRIPACC), University of Hertfordshire and Professor Venka Simovska, School of Education, Arts, Aarhus University have also provided valuable insights and we hope to be able to work further with them both.

Contact: Dr Sian Supski for any project queries.